Who should be more upset, Pacers or Jazz fans
As an Indiana Pacers fan trying to deal with the loss of Paul George, I couldn’t help but think of those Utah Jazz fans who are dealing with the loss of Gordon Hayward.
All free agency deals and trades that have been announced in the past five days cannot be completed before the NBA's moratorium ends tonight at midnight.
Hayward agreed to four-year, $128 million deal with the Boston Celtics, reuniting the Brownsburg native with his coach at Butler, Brad Stevens.
The Jazz reportedly offered Hayward a max contract worth $172.4 million over five years — a deal that would have included a 2017-18 salary of $29.7 million and 8 percent raises.
When the NBA collectively bargained its recent contract, it was thought that current teams could offer their free agents another year, inducing them to stay.
The powers that be, that were supposedly looking out for teams like Utah and Indiana, did not realize that long term contracts are no longer in vogue, with a few exceptions, and short term deals are in.
Players like NBA finals MVP Kevin Durant only signed a two-year extension to stay with the World Champion Golden State Warriors. But Durant can opt out after next season, looking for an even bigger payday after he left some $10 million per season on the table this year so Golden State could resign all their important players and go for a third title in four seasons.
It has become more important to put together “Super Teams,” with star free agents, rather than do it through the draft and through trades.
Chasing a championship worked for Durant, but not so well for Gary Payton, Charles Barkley and Karl Malone. When did competing in sports guarantee you a chance of winning, let alone a championship?
So Utah fans, who watched Hayward grow into an NBA All-Star, are left with what might have been. The Jazz won 51 games in the Western Conference and beat the Clippers in the first round of the playoff this season.
They have a bright future — with a good young coach in Quin Snyder and players like Dante Exum, Joe Johnson, Joe Ingles (man he can shoot it), Rudy Gobert and Ricky Rubio (just traded for after losing George Hill to the Kings) — but face an uphill battle in the West against the Warriors, Spurs and Rockets.
But the Jazz received no assets in return for Hayward, just money under the salary cap to spend.
Hayward said he wanted the fans and people in the organization to hear his decision first, no matter how agonizing it was for him and his family.
The lure of joining coach Stevens again and taking another shot at a title were just too much to turn down, I guess.
Everybody wants to romanticize Butler’s run to the NCAA championship game in 2010, where Hayward’s halfcourt runner clanked off the rim, giving Duke a a 61-59 win and the title.
Never have we seen a missed shot replayed so much. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, or so I was told.
Time will only tell if the Stevens-Hayward combination works as well with the Celtics.
The Paul George scenario played out a little differently. The Fresno State product, who was picked 10th in the 2010 NBA Draft, one position behind Hayward, had refused to sign at least two contract extension offers by the Pacers.
Larry Bird, then the man in Indy, should have shipped him out at the trade deadline in February.
George said he was upset about hearing his name in trade discussions. If he didn’t want things that way, why not sign the extension? You can’t have it both ways.
If the Pacers could have gotten by the Heat, led by LeBron James in 2013 and 2014, in the Eastern Conference Finals, would things have been different with the Pacers and George? We will never know.
I still blame former coach Frank Vogel, who is better than current coach Nate McMillan, for taking Roy Hibbert out for the last play in game 1 in Miami in 2013 as James drove, uncontested for the game-winning basket in the final seconds.
Anyway, George has been traded to Oklahoma City for former IU standout Victor Oladipo and forward Domantas Sabonis, the No. 11 pick in the 2016 draft.
Seems like the Pacers could have gotten more, but everyone knew that George is on a one-year rental, with dreams of going back home to play for the Lakers as his top priority.
Who knows what to believe other than the Celtics were not going to give up its top two likely lottery picks of the eight they own over the next four years.
George’s words sounded sincere at a celebrity softball game in Indy in June and then two days later his agent, he told the Pacers his plans to depart after 2017-18, so at least Indiana got a heads up.
Hopefully they weren’t too dense to realize George was already gone.
So the Pacers are not tanking, but who really knows what they have moving forward. Oladipo is a young, undersized two-guard who will be one of their starters. A slasher and a scorer, Oladipo could score 20 points per game.
His biggest negative is he is owed $63 million over the next three seasons.
Recently acquired Darren Collison will start at point guard after the Pacers let Jeff Teague go in free agency. Collison is a stop gap at best, but apparently has improved since playing for Indiana in 2010-12.
He shot over 40 percent from 3-point range for the Kings last season.
Myles Turner, the face of franchise now, will either start at center or power forward in his third season. He needs to get stronger and become more consistent but the Pacers and their faithful hope he continues to develop.
Thaddeus Young will start again at power forward with Glenn Robinson III likely to start at small forward.
Sabonis, first-round draft choice T.J. Leaf and Lance Stephenson should be the top reserves.
Stephenson, who can play both guard positions, also could start, depending on matchups or if Oladipo could play some at point guard.
Not the worst of times, but likely not the best of times.
As I tell my friends during bad times and lean years, at least we still have a team.
Divorce is never easy and always messy. Nobody usually wins.
My final thoughts on George are at least we had a chance to get something for him, even though it was never going to be a fair swap considering these circumstances.
He was a very good player for us for seven seasons and was remarkable in his comeback after breaking his leg. He was a very good defender, but it was obvious that he wanted to pursue other opportunities, his right in the modern sports world.
I don’t want to sound like a bitter spouse, but as good as he was, he was never a great leader or made his teammates better. I still wonder at times how hard he played.
His inability to make game-winning shots was never more evident than his rushed, wide-open 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds left against the Cavs in game 4 of their first-round playoff series at the Fieldhouse this year.
It hit nothing but backboard as the Pacers lost 106-102, in what turned out to be his final appearance in a Blue and Gold uniform.
Fifteen lousy points from a so-called Superstar.
Where was he in game 3 when the Pacers lost a 25-point halftime lead against Cleveland? Nowhere to be found.
“This season has been very frustrating,” George told the media afterwards. “But every year isn’t a golden year.
“There’s going to be some ups and downs in a career and I’ve learned that.”
Thanks for that insightful comments.
How do you think it was for us fans?
I doubt if 2017-18 is a Golden Year for the Pacers. It will be filled with ups and downs, probably more downs, but not with the disappointment of having an All-Star with one foot out the door.